A true rags to riches story, Richard Burton overcame abject poverty as a child in Wales to become one of the world’s highest paid and respected actors.

Born as Richard Jenkins in 1925, Burton was the 12th of 13 children. Whilst at school, he was encouraged to try his hand at acting by his schoolmaster Philip Burton, who was the inspiration for his eventual name change. Although Burton made his London stage debut in the early forties, he didn’t become a household name in Shakespearean theatre until 1951. He soon made it on to the big screen, starring in films such as Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. Yet, despite his successes both on stage and on screen, he became the most nominated actor who never won an Oscar.

Burton’s notoriety extended to his personal life. He was married five times throughout his life – most famously to Elizabeth Taylor, whom he married twice. He also battled the bottle throughout his career, and tragically died in Switzerland in 1984 at the age of 58.  Whether you know him best as one of Hollywood’s greatest leading men, a Shakespearean great, or someone with a turbulent private life, there’s no denying that Richard Burton was one of the true icons of our time.

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